Friday, November 7, 2008
Lincoln and Obama
Would Abraham Lincoln have supported the presidency of Obama? It is difficult to say but Lincoln has been misquoted as saying the following:
"You cannot bring prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further brotherhood of men by inciting class hatred.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away man's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves"
I was brought up to believe that Lincoln said these words but according to several webpages and several books that I have read then I have learned that this might not be the case. If it was true than one could say that perhaps Lincoln would not have supported Obama but then again he believed that man should rise as far as talent could take them and since Obama did that in the 2008 election than he might have actually supported our new president. In the end Lincoln is dead and we may never know how he would have felt because he might have went with the "party-line" and John McCain.
Regardless of how you voted on Tuesday, Obama has a tough task remaining before him and if he is able to get the United States out of this crisis then he will have a bigger victory in 2012. He has a lot on his shoulders so maybe the comparison between Lincoln and Obama holds some water because when Abe was elected he faced a major crisis too. Even Ken Burns agrees with this assessment. I did a quick internet search and not to my surprise I learned that Burns had supported John Kerry and Al Gore during the 2004 and 2000 elections. He also compared Obama to Lincoln because Obama and Lincoln did not have enough experience when they were elected. Burns noted that Lincoln had come into the White House with much less Washington experience than other leading politicians of the 1850s. With the country in such a perilous state at the time, he said, one might have thought it needed an "old pro" like William Seward, when in fact, Burns said, "what the country really needed was a wiry, relatively inexperienced" person, Abe Lincoln. In this regard, he argued, history may be repeating itself.
Obama did pull out all the stops when he used quotes from Lincoln's first inugural speech during his own acceptence speech. They are of course some of my favorite Lincoln quotes. Obama said:
"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection...The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." Almost 150 years after Lincoln, Barack Obama is also summoning us to heed the angels of our better nature. Will we heed them?
I am not a Obama supporter but he did state during his acceptence speech that "And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too." Good luck President Obama, you got a lot of work to do and a lot of healing to do. This country is divided and needs a leader. Good luck.